Industrial entrepreneurs are the silent heroes behind the culture of design. They assume the economic risks and liabilities by leading their companies to invest in design. They establish markets through the production of goods as well as by responding to market demand. Individuals such as Aurileo Zanotta of Zanotta Spa, Alberto Alessi of Alessi, Busnelli of B & B Italia, Julio Castelli of Kartell, Louis Poulsen of Poulsen Lighting A/S, and Rolf Fehlbaum of Vitra all deserve their well-earned recognition (Figure 9.21). Industrial entrepreneurs create relationships with designers, fabricators, representatives, and retail store owners. They are informed about design and production and are responsible for the welfare of their organization and its working relationships with designers. Their role is significant in shaping the industrial culture of furniture design and, on occasion, their vision has national and global impact.
Many larger furniture manufacturers have opened substantial showrooms, sometimes on site with their factories, to augment their printed catalog. This marketing trend began in the twentieth century. Today, Cassina, Fritz Hansen, Flou, B & B Italia, Giorgetti (Figure 9.22), GUBI, and Vitra are some of the many furniture companies that have showrooms in close proximity to their factory and headquarters, blurring the line between gallery and retail store.